This past Shabbat, we read the third and final "Haftarah of Affliction," the readings that prepare us for Tisha B'Av, which begins Monday night. The passage from Isaiah tells us that we should not offer empty and insincere worship to God, but rather, "Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; aid the wronged" (Isaiah 1:17). I like to think that the spaghetti and meatballs, the chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, and the garlic bread we made today were more than a filling meal for the hungry; they also were a way of responding to God's call for justice.
Tisha B'Av was instituted in ancient times to mark the anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temples. But the day means a great deal more than that. The fast is not just to bemoan a tragedy that happened to our people long ago. It also is a day to grieve for a world that is heart-breakingly far from the world of our highest hopes.